Healthcare in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan: Lessons for the United States and other western healthcare systems

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The International Journal of Health Planning and Management


Bhutan has demonstrated a trajectory of advances in healthcare, while still remaining true to its culture and traditional forms of medicine. Most recently, Bhutan gained international attention when it implemented a strategic Covid-19 vaccination programme that protected a greater percentage of its population than observed in Western industrialised nations. This accomplishment supports the idea that there are lessons from Bhutan to be shared with the rest of the world. In this work, we delineate our observations of the Bhutanese healthcare system, based on field observations in several Bhutanese cities, and results from surveys of Bhutanese physicians. We identify a number of unique practices that influence patient compliance, health education, and access to care in the Bhutanese system, that may be of particular interest and applicability to other healthcare systems. These include housing multiple health services at one location, fully funded medical visits, using non-physician teachers for health education and use of Gross National Happiness (GNH) measures in care.


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